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Ivory Coast: Ex-combatants seize weapons and takeover former rebel city

Ivory Coast: Ex-combatants seize weapons and takeover former rebel city

Ivory Coast

Demobilized soldiers in the town of Bouake, located in central Ivory Coast, have seized weapons from police stations and taken up positions at entry points into the city.

A local journalist and a military officer confirmed to Reuters news agency that gunfire erupted as the former soldiers went on rampage overnight. Bouake was once the center of control of rebels after the failed overthrow of Laurent Gbagbo.

“The city is under the control of former (soldiers) who fired shots around 2 a.m. (0200 GMT) while taking arms from the city’s police stations,” said the army officers, who spoke by telephone from Bouake

The city is under the control of former (soldiers) who fired shots around 2 a.m. (0200 GMT) while taking arms from the city's police stations.

“It is a mutiny of ex-combatants integrated into the army that claim premiums of 5 million FCFA (7,600 euros) plus one house each,” a soldier under cover of anonymity explained to AFP.

They attacked at least two police stations and erected barricades in the city center, cutting off all traffic, the AFP correspondent said, pointing to sporadic automatic firearms.

Following peaceful, transparent, credible, and inclusive presidential elections held in October 2015 – the second and final term of incumbent Alassane Ouattara – Ivory Coast is continuing the vital work of national reconciliation and security sector reform.

The security sector reforms include professionalizing its security forces and reintegrating former combatants and refugees.

The country recently held local level elections and a constitutional referendum as part of deepening its democratic credentials. The president has also openly affirmed that he will step down in 2020 upon the expiration of his final mandate.

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